EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 31, 2013

Raiders should open playoffs with bang

Grid Picks Dave Dyer, ddyer@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Central Catholic is in a new position as the realigned MIAA playoffs get underway.

Although most thought the Raiders would have a good season, few thought they would roll to the Merrimack Valley Conference title and now be considered one of the Division 1 playoff favorites.

How will they respond as the hunted rather than hunter?

I’m guessing that it will be a positive response and I like the way Mike Balsamo has become more involved in the offense as a complement to star QB Mike Milano and fellow running back D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie.

PICK: Central Catholic 33, Lexington 14

TOMORROW’S GAMES

Methuen (4-3) at Acton-Boxboro (6-1)

It’s been a rough run for Methuen since opening the season with four straight wins, and the Rangers may need to wait another week to end their losing streak.

PICK: Acton-Boxboro 28, Methuen 14

Lynn English (2-4) at Haverhill (5-2)

The Hillies meet up with Jordan Javier, who was their All-MVC receiver last year but now plays quarterback at Lynn English. But Tom Maguire, Stephane Bristol and crew aren’t about to be afraid.

PICK: Haverhill 24, Lynn English 14

North Andover (3-4) at Waltham (4-2)

This is just a hunch, but I smell an upset from Casey Walsh and the Knights.

PICK: North Andover 27, Waltham 20

Lawrence (2-5) at Andover (3-4)

Speaking of upsets, I’m tempted to pick the improved Lancers that have won two straight, but ...

PICK: Andover 29, Lawrence 22

Winthrop (3-4) at North Reading (3-4)

The Hornets gained a lot of confidence by knocking off Pentucket and C.J. McCarthy looks healthy again.

PICK: North Reading 20, Winthrop 13

Sanborn (5-3) at Windham (7-1)

The Indians won’t be able to match points with the charged-up Jaguars.

PICK: Windham 33, Sanborn 19

Salem (2-5 ) at Londonderry (4-4)

There should be plenty of points scored in this one.

PICK: Londonderry 32, Salem 30

Pinkerton (6-2) at Merrimack (3-5)

If the Astros can get more contributions from their offense, like they did last week, they’ll be dangerous in the playoffs.

PICK: Pinkerton 36, Merrimack 16

Bishop Guertin (5-3) at Timberlane (1-7)

The Owls, for the most part, have played well, but they have little to show for it.

PICK: Bishop Guertin 33, Timberlane 14

Groton (2-4) at Brooks (2-4)

Flip a coin for this rare Friday afternoon game.

PICK: Brooks 23, Groton 20

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Hamilton-Wenham (3-4) at Pentucket (5-1)

This Pentucket team is a hard one to read, but it’s clearly better than H-W and should be fired up after the tough end to the regular season.

PICK: Pentucket 28, Hamilton-Wenham 13

Whittier (5-2) at Austin Prep (5-2)

This is a rematch of a matchup on Week No. 1, which was won by Austin Prep, 22-14. Whittier has improved greatly since then, but so has Austin.

PICK: Austin Prep 21, Whittier 20

Georgetown (0-7) at Shawsheen (3-4)

Do the Royals really want to play four more games?

PICK: Shawsheen 26, Georgetown 7

Pelham (7-0) at Farmington (1-6)

The starters should be resting by the second half.

PICK: Pelham 42, Farmington 7

Worcester Academy (1-5) at Phillips Academy (6-0)

Worcester Academy’s defense is not good.

PICK: Phillips Academy 41, Worcester Academy 7

Season record: 95-28